Islam with Progress: The Spirit of Muhammadiyah Movement

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Islam with progress is a fundamental paradigm for Muhammadiyah. It becomes not only identity that differs Muhammadiyah from other Islamic movements, but also the theology that can encourage all its social reform activities.

Since the beginning of its existence, Muhammadiyah has progressive character. The vision of K.H Ahmad Dahlan is simple but futuristic. At the first statuten in 1912, stated the word “advancing” in the phrase of the purpose of Muhammadiyah, “….b. Memajoekan hal Igama kepada anggauta-anggautanja” (advancing the religious matters to its members) (Deliar Noer: 1996, 86).

The formulation of Muhammadiyah’s objectives was then refined and submitted to the Dutch East Indies Government to be inaugurated. At the Muhammadiyah’s Statuten in 1914, article 2: “(1) Advancing and encouraging the Islamic teaching and learning proses in Dutch East Indies, and (2) Advancing and encouraging the way of life as long as the will of Islam for its allies.” There are two keywords in those objectives which are “advancing” and “encouraging”.


Kyai Dahlan, often said, “Please become a progressive Islamic scholar, and do not stop working for Muhammadiyah” (Sahlan Rosyidi, 1975). The vision of Muhammadiyah movement is forward-looking, visionary, scientific, as well as striving toward doing da’wa in Muhammadiyah.

In the Kyai Dahlan’s complete work written in the Javanese Language in 1921 titled “Tali Pengikat Hidup Manusia”, he reviewed “Islamic progress leader” (Mulkhan:2015, 3-14). Besides that, more than half of the work describes “the intelligence, intelligent learning, the perfection of mind, human needs, people who have intelligence, the differences between smart and stupid”.

Moreover, the Suara Muhammadiyah magazine in 1922 which written in the Javanese Language, it is reviewed the importance of Islam as the “agami nalar” which means a religion that progressive for its followers. Djarnawi Hadikusuma in his book “Matahari-Matahari Muhammadiyah”, stated, “the true and holy Islamic doctrine dan can bring a fresh air for the advance of the Muslims and Indonesia in general.”

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In the Muhammadiyah hoofdbestuur opening speech in 1927, 1928, and 1929, respectively, “Views on the Progress of Islam and the Muhammadiyah Movement”, “Views on Islam and the Muhammadiyah Movement”, and “Views on the Progress of Islam and the Dutch East Indies Muhammadiyah Movement” are become the theme and reviewed. According to Haedar Nashir, from all the various Inauguration speeches or “Khutabtul Arsy” from 1921 to 1971, it is clear that the views of Muhammadiyah leaders are based on the foundations of the Holy Qur’an and the Maqbullah Sunnah by developing progressive thinking.

Kyai Mas Mansyur in his opening remark at a quarter of century congress of Muhammadiyah in Betawi 1937, said: “….The advance of Islam and the elevation of the degree of its adherents is the foremost hope of Muhammadiyah,…” (Sukriyanto AR and Mulkhan, 162).

Kyai Mas Mansyur also wrote “the reasons behind the decline of Muslims” at Adil number 52/IX 1941. When explaining the second characteristic of Muslims who are not smart, the leader of PB Muhammadiyah proposed 12 steps of Muhammadiyah in 1938-1942, the second point is about the importance of “expanding the religious understanding”. (Nashir: 2012, 30).

In the 37th national congress in 1968, 9 characteristics of a truly Islamic society were described. One of its characteristics is a “society with progress”, a society in which they are modern and dynamic as well as able to become a role model.


The term of “Islam with progress” is widely known when a personal journal of Kyai Syuja’, “Muhammadiyah and Its Founder”, was re-published in 2009 with title “Islam Berkemajuan: Kisah Perjuangan K.H. Ahmad Dahlan dan Muhammadiyah Masa Awal” (Islam with progress: The Story of the struggle of K.H Ahmad Dahlan and Early Muhammadiyah). This book is the personal journal of Kyai Syuja’(1882-1962) about the story of Ahmad Dahlan.

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In its first century congress in Yogyakarta, Muhammadiyah proposes “Statements of the Second Century Muhammadiyah Thoughts”. It states:

“Islam with progress sows the seeds of truth, goodness, peace, justice, advantage, prosperity, and the virtue of dynamic life for all mankind. Islam upholds the dignity of human beings, both men and women without discrimination. Islam promotes anti-war, anti-terrorism, anti-violence, anti-oppression, anti-backward missions, and is anti-all forms of destruction on earth such as corruption, abuse of power, crimes against humanity, exploitation of nature, and various evils that destroy life. Islam that positively gives birth to virtues that shields the plurality of ethnic groups, races, groups, and cultures of mankind on earth.”

The meaning of “With progress” as stated in Indonesia Berkemajuan: Rekonstruksi Kehidupan Kebangsaan yang Bermakna (2014: 10-12) is to be advance and excel in three fields, politics, economy, and culture. “With progress” means a process and also an ideal goal to achieve superior conditions, be at the forefront, or lead in all areas of life ─material and spiritual, body and soul, physic and mental. “With progress” also implies continuity, and even progress, as a manifestation of continuous efforts to achieve meaningful sustainable development.


In the book of the results of Tanwir Muhammadiyah in Samarinda on May 23-25, 2014, it states that the definition of “With progress” when it is used as an adjective for the word “Indonesia”, namely: “Advanced Indonesia can be interpreted as the leading country (al-madinah al-fadhilah), a rich and civilized country (umran), and a prosperous country.

A country with progress is a country that encourages the creation of a function of mercy and grace that is supported by intelligence, personality, and noble human resources. First, progressive in spirit, mind, action, and forward-looking. Second, progressive towards realizing better conditions in material and spiritual life. Third, progressive to be excellent in various fields in association with other nations.

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The word “Islam with progress” contains the meaning Islam which “can be advanced”, “want to be advanced”, as well as “… move, or work to be advanced”. Islam is “advanced” or “progressive” because its nature is an endless process so these goals or ideals must be carried out from one generation to the next one until the end of time. Therefore, the word “progress” implies both a process and a goal.

With the spirit of Islam with progress, Muhammadiyah enlightens the ummah, nation, and the world of humanity as a form of Islamic da’wa ijtihad as Din al-Hadharah and spreads the message of rahmatan lil-‘alamin to build an advanced civilization.

Editor: Yahya FR

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